[ RadSafe ] Weather chief draws flak over plea not to release radiation forecasts

RRGWNYEnviro at aol.com RRGWNYEnviro at aol.com
Sat Apr 30 09:48:53 CDT 2011

Weather chief draws flak over plea not to release radiation forecasts
Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination at a testing center 
Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, 
four days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country's north 
east coast. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The chief of the Meteorological Society of Japan has drawn 
flak from within the academic society over a request for member specialists 
to refrain from releasing forecasts on the spread of radioactive substances 
from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. 
In the request posted March 18 on the society's website, Hiroshi Niino, 
professor at the University of Tokyo, said such forecasts, which he says carry 
some uncertainty, "could jumble up information about the government's 
antidisaster countermeasures unnecessarily." 
"The basic principle behind antidisaster measures is to enable people to 
act on unified reliable information," he said. 
Niino later said in commenting on the intention he had in issuing the 
statement, "If (society members') forecasts were announced, it would have carried 
the risk that ordinary people may panic." 
But Toshio Yamagata, another University of Tokyo professor who is a member 
of the society, said meteorological scientists have the responsibility to 
encourage the government to take the right course of action by announcing 
their forecasts "especially when a country is going through a critical sit
"Our society has degenerated into a bureaucratic entity," he warned. 
Niino released an additional statement that can be interpreted as 
self-defense on the website on April 11, entitled "a supplement to the (original) 
The NNSA hazard map released by the U.S. federal government. The Fukushima 
No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is marked by a white dot at right.

In this new statement, he said the principle of keeping information sources 
unified "should be applied when a country is going through a critical 
situation" and "should not be applied now that the release of radioactive 
substances has been prolonged." 
The controversy over Niino's statements came to light when a series of 
delays in the release by the government of information related to the spread of 
radioactive substances have come under intense public scrutiny. 
The outcry stemmed partly from revelations that the government has not 
released much of the data on radiation spread forecasts computed by its Nuclear 
Safety Technology Center's computer system, called the System for Prediction 
of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, known as SPEEDI. 
The government's Meteorological Agency itself has been under criticism for 
not releasing its forecasts on the dissemination of radioactive substances 
from the Fukushima plant even after it communicated the forecasts to the 
International Atomic Energy Agency. 
Meanwhile, the Ibaraki prefectural government said it detected 1,129 
becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of launce its research vessel caught 
on Thursday in waters near its northern border with Fukushima Prefecture, 
home to the crippled nuclear plant. 
The amount above the legal limit of 500 becquerels per kg disappointed the 
prefecture which would have met requirements for lifting the ban on fishing 
and shipping the fish if the latest test again showed a level below the 
In a related development, the science ministry said it detected trace 
amounts of radioactive iodine and cesium for the first time in deep seawater in 
samples taken from more than 200 meters deep on Monday off Ibaraki. 
The samples from waters 208 to 582 meters deep plus one from waters 10 
meters deep off Chiba Prefecture had 5.8 to 6.0 becquerels of iodine per liter 
and 9.1 to 12.6 becquerels of cesium, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science 
and Technology Ministry said.
(Mainichi Japan) April 30, 2011

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